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January 16, 2018

Video highlights logging as an 'exciting industry' for young job-seekers

PHOTO / Heidi Carter, Northern Maine Community College
PHOTO / Heidi Carter, Northern Maine Community College
Donald Burr, Northern Maine Community College's program coordinator for the Mechanized Logging Operations Program, trained six students in mechanized logging operations in the program's first cohort of students. The Professional Logging Contractors of Maine has launched a promotional video to publicize the state's year-old program that provides much-needed trained loggers for the state's $8.5 billion forest products industry.

The Professional Logging Contractors of Maine has launched a promotional video to publicize the state's year-old program that provides much-needed trained loggers for the state's $8.5 billion forest products industry.

The Mechanized Logging Operations program, the first post-secondary training in the industry in Maine, began last June with six students. It was created by the PLC in partnership with Northern Maine Community College in Presque Isle, Eastern Maine Community College in Bangor and Washington County Community College in Calais.

The 12-week certificate course aims to help fill an industry shortage of loggers skilled in use of the industry's equipment.

Last summer, in the first year of the program, students worked in the woods south of Medway. In 2018 and 2019, the course will take place in Aroostook and Washington counties, respectively. The site for this year's class, tentatively set to begin in June, hasn't been named yet.

Graduates of the first class, who received certificates in September in a ceremony at the work site, all received job offers from logging contractors before they completed the program, according to the PLC.

"For the first time, logging operators are being trained similarly to other advanced trade occupations with a high school and postsecondary approach," according to the PLC. "The hands-on experience students gain operating sophisticated mechanized logging equipment for weeks in the woods is something unavailable anywhere else in Maine and neighboring states."

The program works in tandem with the state's vocational training system and is expected to draw many of its students from within the logging industry itself, as well as from Maine's four high school vocational logging programs, the organization said.

Video available on YouTube

Produced by Alex Coppola, the video is aimed at high schools, career centers and other organizations with connections to potential students, which is available on YouTube or a downloadable high-definition version. It combines interviews with students, instructors, industry representatives, wood consumers and logging contractors with footage of students harvesting wood and training in maintenance, safety, and forest health practices.This is the producer

"We realized early in our efforts to develop the program that young people today are more likely to develop an interest in a program like this by seeing it," said Dana Doran, PLC executive director. "Mechanized logging is an exciting industry that lends itself well to video and we are certain that interest in the program will be strong among potential students who view this video on social media platforms, websites, and in presentations."

Workers needed

PHOTO / Heidi Carter, Northern Maine Community College
PHOTO / Heidi Carter, Northern Maine Community College
The first cohort of Mechanized Logging Operations students trained at a site near Medway.

The video also highlights the history of logging in Maine, the importance of forest health and environmental stewardship to the profession and the opportunities for advancement and careers.

Approximately 95% of logging in Maine relies on mechanized equipment that takes an operator at least a year of training and experience to become skilled enough to run safely and efficiently. The cost for companies to train the operators themselves is approximately $100,000 each.

Besides the community colleges, the program also is supported by the logging industry, including Milton CAT/CAT Forest Products, Nortrax Inc./John Deere, as well as Acadia Insurance, Labonville Inc, Katahdin Fire Company, Eldon Pelletier, Steve Hanington and Madden Timberlands Inc.

"While Maine's logging industry has seen some contraction in recent years because of the loss of pulp and paper mills, the demand for skilled operators of the feller bunchers, harvesters, grapple skidders, forwarders, delimbers and other mechanized logging equipment that now harvests more than 95% of all timber in Maine is strong," the release said. "Many current operators are reaching retirement age and the steep costs of training new operators is driving up demand and wages."

The program gives students a broad overview of the most common mechanical systems found in modern timber harvesting equipment, and an understanding of the variables of timber growth, tree species, and markets. It also includes a strong emphasis on safety, the PLC said.

Funding for the program also came through the Put ME to Work Program, which supports creation of new job training programs at Maine's community colleges.

The video was developed with support from Auburn bank Farm Credit East, and was shot at the class site near Medway, as well as at Pleasant River Lumber's Dover-Foxcroft dimension mill and Treeline Inc. in Chester.

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